Austin Pancner

Austin Pancner

Class Year


Current home

Cincinnati, Ohio


Music; Trombone Performance

Current Position

Health and Wellness Professional, and Freelance Musician

As a health and wellness professional, Austin Pancner ’13 runs online coaching programs that help musicians overcome tension, pain, or injury. He believes that many are unfamiliar with the life of a musician, but daily practice, demanding performances, and high-stress overtime have led to an industry injury rate of 62-93 percent, depending on the research. As a freelance musician, Mr. Pancner holds the bass trombone chair in the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, performing around 8-12 concerts annually. Outside of this organization, he also regularly subs with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and most recently, the Sarasota Orchestra.

Although Mr. Pancner lives in Ohio, he makes an effort to visit Kenosha a few times a year and participate in Carthage Music Department alumni events.

If you want to check out Mr. Pancner’s work, you can find him on social media @thefunctionalmusician or visit his website.

“The friendships I have made have had the biggest impact on me, but from an academic perspective, the music faculty and program helped prepare me most for my career.”

Austin Pancner, ’13

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“I greatly enjoy making music with other musicians. These experiences not only give me the opportunity to perform with others, but to also create something bigger than ourselves. This often leaves me feeling inspired, grateful, and ready to find the next opportunity.

“I also enjoy the flexibility. The great thing about having a multifaceted career is that variety becomes the spice of life! I have weeks where I will travel or weeks where I will be at home with my wife and mini-golden doodle. I am someone who tends to constantly look for stimulation or something to do, and having this variety keeps things interesting and fresh.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“The friendships I have made have had the biggest impact on me, but from an academic perspective, the music faculty and program helped prepare me most for my career. I greatly struggled sophomore year during my time at Carthage. I was going through growing pains, underachieving, and having a hard time figuring out what I wanted with my life. Professors James Ripley, Dimitri Shapovalov, Paul Von Hoff, and others helped guide me toward discovering these truths and turning things around. I quickly found myself discovering more about myself, creating career goals, and committing to the process of growth. These concepts are lifelong pursuits and continue to guide me as I navigate forward into the unknown.”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“During my degree, I was able to do an incredible amount of traveling through the Music Department. I was able to go to Japan with the Wind Orchestra, play in several silent movie soundtracks, and travel to St. Louis. More importantly, the Carthage experience greatly influenced the opportunity to attend one of the top music schools in the country.”

What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?

“Prof. Shapovalov had one of the biggest influences on my success at Carthage. He found me at a low point in my life, and I can say that I wouldn’t be here today without his guidance and mentorship. In addition, the music faculty and school is an extremely supportive and close environment. I had relationships with most of the music faculty at Carthage, and they all had some part in my success. Also — I am not agreeing that I am successful. I still have a long way to go!”

Tips for current Carthage students?

“Be open to any and all experiences. Looking back on my undergrad experience, I find myself wishing I would have done more. I wish I had explored club sports. I wish I would have joined a choir for a semester or two. I wish I would have had the courage to live with a little more commitment to discover who I am and what I want out of life. But undergraduate regrets aside, the biggest thing I invite you to think about from my story is that success is in the eye of the beholder and everyone is going to have challenges. As as long as you show up for yourself, ask questions, and strive to learn, you cannot and will not fail. I am not an award recipient, I am not someone who naturally is good a things, but what I am good at is being consistent and putting in the work (a healthy amount — don’t sacrifice your health for work).”

Are you a Carthage alum who is excelling in your field?